Flowers will bloom.

Takashi's and Midori's final resting place

Takashi’s and Midori’s final resting place – 1st May 1951

63 years ago today, on May 1st 1951, Takashi Nagai – the “Saint of Urakami” passed away.

It was a short but full life. In his 43 years he had managed to fit in a lifetime of accomplishments and created an enduring legacy through his teachings and writings.

The good doctor, although more or less bedridden in his final years, worked tirelessly to make Urakami district (ground zero) a place where “beautiful flowers will bloom”.

He left behind copious essays, memoirs, drawings and calligraphy on various themes including God, war, death, medicine, and orphanhood. These enjoyed a large readership during the American Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) as spiritual chronicles of the atomic bomb experience.

His work towards the spiritual restoration of his country led to him being honoured as a National Hero of Japan, and in 1991, “The Takashi Nagai Peace Award”, was founded to annually promote writings and essays on “love” and “peace” from all over Japan.

As befitting a man born into a Samurai family (Samurai means “to serve”) he has recently been honoured by the Catholic Church with the title “Servant of God”, the first step to sainthood. But to many people in Nagasaki and around the world, Takashi Nagai is already considered a saint.

Walking around Nagasaki today you will still find a living legacy  to the spirit of Dr. Nagai. Surrounding Urakami Cathedral are the cherry trees he planted shortly before his death. They defied science which declared that no life could grow there for 75 years.

Nagasaki is indeed a city that has risen from the ashes. It is a city where the past has left its indelible shadow forever imprinted upon its surface and on the collective consciousness of its inhabitants, but it is also a place that embraces the future, a city that continues to grow and bloom.

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Presenting the bigger picture…

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These past few months directors Ian and Dominic Higgins have been buried away working on the edit of the film, honing scenes, polishing the visuals and designing the soundscape, but now they have announced they will shortly present the first test screening of a completed edit  (with only directors and producers present) – so stay tuned for more info on this!

In the meantime, it appears our film isn’t the only thing to soon be revealed (albeit at this stage to only select crew).  We came across an interesting and very timely story in the Ashai Shimbun newspaper.

It is common knowledge that Dr. Nagai was a convert to Christianity and that it was his new found faith that he turned to when confronted with the horrors of war. What is not common knowledge though is that Christianity in Japan is a little different to Christianity in the West.

Having been driven underground in the early 17th Century by the Japanese government of that time, these hidden Christians or “Krishitans” as they became known, began to develop their own form of Christianity, incorporating certain aspects of Buddhism and Shinto into their practices.

Now it seems the Vatican is about to start its first extensive study on the Krishitans.

A still from "26 Martyrs" courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films

A still from “26 Martyrs” courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films

Naturally there are some who question as to whether the Krishitans should be considered as Christians.

Annibale Zambarbieri, a professor of religion at the University of Pavia in Italy, has this to say in answer, “I think that we should call them, ‘Old Christians.’ Christianity has often mixed with local cultures. Even Pope Francis said that they are model believers. There is no reason not to regard them as Christians.”

Our experiences with Fr. Paul Glynn and his parishioners in Nara certainly back these words up.

For more on this, here’s a the full article from Ashai Shimbun….

The Christmas message from Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

On Christmas Eve 1945, a single bell rang out across the atomic wasteland of Nagasaki. For all who heard it, it was an incredible message of hope that resurrection was indeed possible.

Needless to say, it’s an incredibly important scene in our film.

From the director’s blog:

The sequence required two actors to unearth a cathedral bell that has been buried beneath a pile of rubble (from the atomic blast) and to then raise it on a make-shift stand, with the scene ending on the bell ringing out once more across the wastelands of Nagasaki on Christmas Eve night.

It’s a very important scene in the film (and a very symbolic one) so we spent a lot of time experimenting with different ideas for how we were going to pull this off. After rendering some test footage with a computer generated 3D version of the bell, we decided to opt for a far more traditional technique.

Model miniatures have been used in the field of film special effects since the very beginning; in fact, one of the iconic images from the early film period is a still from George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – which shows the man in the moon with the rocket stuck in his eye. The effect was achieved with the use of miniatures.

Concept art for George Melies' A Trip to the Moon - 1901

Concept art for George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – 1901

Maybe the most magical aspect of miniatures is that, even today, with the stunning photo-realism that can be achieved with CGI, miniatures are still very much part of the special effects tool box, and indeed, in many cases, the best tool for the job.

In our case, the miniature was shot against a greenscreen and was then composited into a CGI rendered backdrop with the two actors (also shot against greenscreen) – so it was very much a case of traditional and modern FX techniques working together to achieve our effect.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

As it appears in the scene

As it appears in the scene

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

Below are more stills from the scene when the bell rings out for the first time since the bombing.

A Christmas message rings out

A Christmas message rings out

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve released the new trailer on our Facebook Page too.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from team ATR!

The end is in sight…

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Takashi Nagai and “Fat Man” come face to face

On Saturday (5th Oct) our cameras will roll on what will be the last drama scenes for “All That Remains”.

The day will mainly consist of “pick-up” shots, that is, shots we feel we need to re-shoot or additional shots we feel a certain scene needs.

We’ll keep you posted about the final day of shooting, but in the meantime, below are a few stills showing how the shots from our previous shoots, which took place through June, July and August are shaping up, courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films.

Midori (Yuna Shin) with Makoto (Nicolas Lue-Fong)

Midori (Yuna Shin) with Makoto (Nicolas Lue-Fong)

Charissa Shearer in "All That Remains"

Charissa Shearer in “All That Remains”

Helen Keller (Susan Jameson) meets Takashi.

Helen Keller (Susan Jameson) meets Takashi.

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) in the aftermath of the A-bombing

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) in the aftermath of the A-bombing

The grandest cathedral in East Asia

The grandest cathedral in East Asia

The holy man of Nagasaki

The holy man of Nagasaki

Makoto enduring the harshness of life in the aftermath of the war.

Makoto enduring the harshness of life in the aftermath of the war.

The Nagai family share a precious moment.

The Nagai family share a precious moment.

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Takashi and Midori before Urakami cathedral

Takashi and Midori before Urakami cathedral

The older Kayano (Debbie-Mai Gordon) and Makoto (Henry Wu) prepare to face a new future.

The older Kayano (Debbie-Mai Gordon) and Makoto (Henry Wu) prepare to face a new future.

We’ll also be releasing a brand new trailer shortly, please keep an eye on our Facebook page for more news on this, but if you want to be among the first to see it, be sure to “Like” our FB page!

Summer filming!

Anna Kimura (Younger Kayano) and  Nicolas Lue-Fong (Younger Makoto) enjoy an outdoor shoot!

Anna Kimura (Younger Kayano) and Nicolas Lue-Fong (Younger Makoto) enjoy an outdoor shoot!       Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, when “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In three days time it will be the anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing. For us, it will be exactly a year to the day that we started filming with cast members (although principal photography on the film began when we were in Japan, the previous November).

It’s been an amazing year made possible by the many incredibly generous donations given to us by individuals who have reached into their own pockets to help raise the funds we so badly needed. These individuals we will always have our most sincere gratitude for their belief in us and the story we want to tell.

We are now busy preparing for what will be our penultimate filming day! This will take place on August 8th but we thought it was about time we posted another update, so that you could all see what we’ve been up to since our last blog.

Over the course of three days we’ve shot most of the remaining key scenes of the script.

Making the most of the beautiful weather (some of the hottest days in the UK in seven years!) we took our equipment outside the studio and filmed several scenes up in the surrounding Lickey Hills, a local beauty spot that has a real exotic mix of trees and plants.

The Lickey Hills, in the West Midlands became Japan for a day.

The Lickey Hills, in the West Midlands became Japan for a day. Photo credit: Stephen Green

We also took advantage of the weather to film some great shots with a beautiful vintage 1946 motor car. Many thanks to Peter Willoughby for the use of his car, and also special thanks to Mr and Mrs Khan for not only allowing us to film this scene on their land, but for being so welcoming too.

Ian setting up a shot with the vintage car.

Ian setting up a shot with the vintage car. Photo credit: Dan woodward

Dominic getting a shot inside the vintage car

Dominic getting a shot inside the vintage car. Photo credit: Josh Pitt

With just two more days of filming left, the end is now truly in sight, and for directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, for whom this project has been a three year undertaking (from initial research to final edited movie), it’s a mixed feeling of relief, excitement and sadness.

“This has been very much a personal journey for us both, we’ve worked with some great actors and crew, and met some wonderful people along the way. But as both writers and directors of the film, we also feel like we’ve come to know Dr. Nagai and his family on a very personal level and it’s like we’ve spent time with them,” says Dominic.

“Of course, we still have a lot of work to do in the edit room piecing the film together and generating more effects shots, as well working on the sound design and music score, but as we’ve been working on much of this as we’ve gone on, it means we’re looking at a couple of months locked away in the edit room, as opposed to the twelve months or so that you’d expect if we’d shot this in more conventional manner,” explains Ian.

Now it’s back to the storyboards and shots lists!

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with Nigel

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with producer Nigel Davey. Photo credit: Stephen Green

Dominic making sure he's happy!

Dominic making sure he’s happy! Photo credit: Stephen Green

Camera man Dan Woodward getting ready for a take while Ian and B camera operator Josh Pitt set up another angle

Two of our camera guys in action –  Dan Woodward getting ready for a take while Ian and B camera operator Josh Pitt set up another angle, as little Anna waits patiently . Photo credit: Stephen Green

Ian with Anna before one of her shots

Ian with Anna before one of her shots

Ian lets Anna know he's happy with her shot!

Ian lets Anna know he’s happy with her shot!  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Dominic giving direction before a take with Nicolas

Dominic giving direction before a take with Nicolas. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Sound guy Mat Stroyde in action!

Sound guy Mat Stroyde in action! Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Producer Nigel Davey with Anna and Nicolas

Producer Nigel Davey with Anna and Nicolas. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Just before a take, Anna gives Dominic a little present!

Just before a take, Anna gives Dominic a little present, one of her crisps! Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Ian giving last minute direction to Nic and Anna (who's finishing off her crisps!)

Ian giving last minute direction to Nic and Anna (who’s still finishing off her crisps!)

Josh framing a shot. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Josh framing a shot. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

On the morning a shoot, Dominic and Nigel discuss the order of the day.

On the morning of a shoot, Dominic and Nigel discuss the order of the day. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai) discussing a scene with Ian and Dominic

Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai) discussing a scene with Ian and Dominic

Debbie-Mai Gordon plays the older Kayano

Debbie-Mai Gordon plays the older Kayano

Henry Wu plays the older Makoto

Henry Wu plays the older Makoto

Dominic with Henry Wu, who plays the older Makoto and Debbie-Mai Gordon, who plays the older Kayano

Dominic with Henry and Debbie-Mai as they prepare to film their first scene.

Nicolas getting ready for a take.

Nicolas getting ready for a take.

Meg Kubota (Tsumo Moriyama) with Anna and Nicolas.

Meg Kubota (Tsumo Moriyama) with Anna and Nicolas.

One of our outdoor sets

One of our outdoor sets. Photo credit: Stephen Green

An evolving movie…

A- bomb FX sequence

The A-bomb sequence is one that is very much in a constant state of change and development as we seek to do justice to the real event.

Monday will see us filming more scenes, including a newly added scene for part of the ending sequence. This won’t be the first new scene that has been added during our filming process, as for Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, the process of telling this story has been very much a process of remaining open to new influences and new information, allowing the story in many ways to tell itself.

From the director’s blog:

Of course it all starts with the script, which first goes through several drafts before arriving at a “shooting script”. But despite all these re-writes, for us, the shooting script is more a guide, charting the movie’s various dramatic arcs and character dialogue with ideas for camera angles and sound design for each of the scenes.

More ideas will almost certainly be implemented, when working with the cast, because  directing actors is not just a matter of telling them what we want them to do and say, but rather a collaboration, a meeting of artistic and emotional interpretations.

As directors our most important job is to foster such an environment on set that actors feel the same sense of creative freedom that we grant ourselves when writing a script, storyboarding and editing – creative freedom is essential.

Actors will also, of course, do research as part of the preparation for their roles, which means they could very well come across information we missed during our own research. In fact this has been the case on several occasions during the filming of All That Remains.

On one such occasion a brand new scene was added after actress Kaya Yuzuki told us about an incident involving her character that she read in a book only available in Japanese. The scene is now amongst the most powerful in the entire movie.

A powerful and important scene not included in the original script, brought to our attention by one of our cast.

A powerful and important scene not included in the original script, brought to our attention by one of our cast.

Still more ideas will come when editing the footage together, sometimes these ideas will result in new scenes being written or existing scenes being re-written as we’re filming other scenes.

Other ideas will come when working on the sound design of the movie that may affect the visual edit.

Finally, changes and new ideas may be implemented after the film has played to a “test audience”. It really is an organic living thing that is in a constant state of change and improvement.

Field of a thousand suns

The scene above was going to be originally set on veranda of a house, but the day before we shot the scene, we had the idea of having the characters sit outside in a garden or a park surrounded by sunflowers, so the scene would take on a deeper symbolic significance (we’re very big on symbolism) – it’s the morning that the A-bomb will be dropped and these women are sitting in a “field of a thousand suns” a visual reference to common description of the A-bomb flash being brighter than a thousand suns.

hajime1 hajime2This scene, where Takashi is visited by his younger brother Hajime, was written well into the filming process – one of the benefits of stretching the filming out over a period of months (due to budget) is that we get to edit the footage as we are filming.

This means we get to see if a sequence is working right or if it needs something else, like an extra scene, and because we’re still filming, we get the chance to schedule that extra scene into one of the upcoming shoots.

Takashi contemplates the grand design of the universe. Another scene that was not originally in the shooting script.

Takashi contemplates the grand design of the universe. Another scene that was not originally in the shooting script.

What originally started out as a docu-drama has now, through this process of change and evolution, become a full on feature length drama. It is a project that has continually expanded in both scope and vision and will continue to do so, until the very moment the final touches have been added and the release date has been set!

Interview with Fr. Paul Glynn author of “A Song For Nagasaki”

Fr. Paul Glynn

Fr. Paul Glynn is the author of “A Song For Nagasaki”, which is one of the books that inspired our movie. In this interview filmed during our research trip to Japan, he explains what the story of Takashi Nagai can teach us today.

With more filming about to commence next week, we’re busy preparing for the work ahead. Stay tuned for more behind the scenes info, photos and production stills soon!

Show your support for “All That Remains” on Indiegogo! (Click the link below).

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Fat Man is conceived – video clip

Below is the scene where Prof. Peierls writes up the memorandum which lays out the details necessary to construct a super bomb. This information would lead to the building of Fat Man, the atom bomb which destroyed Nagasaki.

The clip is pre-sound mixed

Our Indiegogo campaign is going great, thanks to everyone who has so generously contributed! Check it out by clicking the link below!

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Nagasaki No Kane – A song for Nagasaki and a thank you.

As a thank you to all those who have been so generous in their donations to the production costs of All That Remains so far, we’d thought we’d share this very special memory from our trip to Japan with you.

When visiting Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song For Nagasaki” in Nara, to interview him for our movie, we did not expect to get such a fantastic welcome, a welcome which included a wonderful meal (washed down with sake) and the above performance by Opera singer Yumiko Okada of the song “Nagasaki No Kane” (The Bells of Nagasaki) which was the theme song for the 1949 movie on Dr. Nagai. We think you’ll agree, it’s a very beautiful and powerful song and a stunning performance by Mrs Okada.

Remember every penny really does go a long way to helping us reach the finishing post! If you have a few dollars to spare and fancy being a part of this amazing project click the link below!

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From design to final shot – a look at the special effects.

FX shot
Dream sequence in ‘All That Remains’ where Takashi Nagai comes face to face with the atom bomb that destroyed Nagasaki.

These last couple of weeks, our main focus in the edit room has been FX work – turning concept art into convincing special effect shots and recreating iconic scenes from archive photos.

Most of the “digital set pieces” are a mix of photographic, live action and computer generated 3D elements.

For the dream sequence pictured at the top of this post, a 3D model of “Fat Man” – the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was rendered to match the exact angle and lighting of the shot. Below, the Fat Man model is prepared for a final render.

A 3D model of "Fat Man"

All the elements for each shot were composited in PhotoShop, the shots were then completed in Adobe After Effects (an industry standard visual effects software) for coloring and final blending of all the elements.

For the shot illustrated above, we worked from an archive photo and built up the atom bombed landscape using a mixture of photographic material and 3D renders. Actor Leo Ashizawa was filmed in the greenscreen studio and superimposed into the scene to recreate an iconic photo of Dr. Nagai.

The above post was originally published on Life Through a Digital Lens .

 As we push on with the final leg of the filming, we’ve decided to launch another crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, to help cover the costs of getting the last few scenes in the bag.

As we always say, every dollar/pound really goes a long way, so if you can spare a few bob and fancy seeing your name included in the final credits, why not head over to Indiegogo now?

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